Review: Ori and the Blind Forest is cute and mostly fluffy

BY JORDAN RYDER | APRIL 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Run, dash, and jump, jump again over a spider as big as you are, and be on your merry way. Every time I did this in Ori and the Blind Forest, I smiled at how smoothly it all worked together.

Ori is a platform adventure title developed with a nod toward the Metroidvania style of games, traversing large environments and often doubling back to pick up upgrades and power ups you couldn’t previously reach. The big question here is, is the platform strong enough for the game to stand on?

Yes, quite beautifully. Ori runs, jumps, and climbs quite smoothly with satisfyingly, enabling agile movements. And the abilities he gains along his journey open up further possibilities. I particularly like the dashing ability, in which, with proper timing Ori can use enemy projectiles to shoot himself forward and reach areas previously unobtainable. Each addition makes it so that you can move pretty much as fast as you can think.

And sometimes you need to think very fast. The three dungeon segments of the game culminate in desperate sprints to safety that require precision timing and no room for errors. I loved these segments that push you to your limits and wished there were more of them. (By the last one, though, I really wished that a checkpoint system had been implemented. It did get frustrating to redo an entire sequence several times just to learn how to complete the final step.)

Part of the reason I enjoy these bits so much is because by comparison, the rest of the game is pretty leisurely. Enemies are more of an annoyance than a threat and the puzzles were interesting but hardly rocket science.  This results in a very erratic difficulty curve rather then a gradual culmination. 

In the plot, Orin ad the Blind Forest has some holes. Its introduction is beautifully done, delivering the emotional equivalent of a gut punch. The problem is that those opening scenes are barely acknowledged once the play starts. Ori ceases to be a character with feelings and is instead an instrument of the player’s will. 

The other moments are also very moving, but they are few. The plot is generic — “light versus dark,” because that’s how it always is — and Ori must save the dying forest by traveling to dungeons and fixing whatever is wrong. The game is also quite short, which is not a bad thing but could easily be knocked off in a weekend of heavy playing. 

Despite wishing for a stronger story, I enjoyed playing Ori. If you are looking for a lighthearted, pretty game on which to spend some hours, then this is a good title. 

Score: 8/10

Ori and the Blind Forest was developed by Moon Studios and is available for PC and Xbox One (and eventually Xbox 360) for $20.

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